Seasonal course of photosynthetic efficiency in Larix decidua Mill. in response to temperature and change in pigment composition during senescence
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- Galvagno, M., Rossini, M., Migliavacca, M. et al. Int J Biometeorol (2013) 57: 871. doi:10.1007/s00484-012-0614-y
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This manuscript presents a study aimed at characterizing the seasonal course of photosynthetic capacity of an alpine deciduous conifer, European larch (Larix decidua Mill.), based on chlorophyll fluorescence measurements and photosynthetic pigment analysis. The study focused on the characterization of autumn senescence events which (contrary to bud-burst) are still scarcely investigated. The study was conducted on two natural European larch stands in the northwestern Italian Alps during two consecutive years. The results show that photosynthetic efficiency as assessed by fluorescence measurements was controlled by variations in air and soil temperature. Photosynthesis responded to variations in maximum air and soil temperature in a delayed way, with a varying lag depending on the seasonal period considered. The analysis of photosynthetic efficiency and pigment decline at the end of the growing season identified two senescence phases. During early senescence, plants manifested only the beginning of needle decolouration, while during late senescence pigment degradation led to a loss in photosynthetic efficiency. This behavior indicates that the beginning of needle yellowing and the decline in photosynthetic efficiency can occur at different times—a finding that should be considered in order to improve models of ecosystem processes.